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Literature / Tales from the Mos Eisley Cantina

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"Only watch your step. This place can be a little rough."
Obi-Wan Kenobi, Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope

Tales from the Mos Eisley Cantina is an anthology of Star Wars short stories in the Legends continuity by various science fiction writers (and edited by Kevin J. Anderson), published in August 1995.

Practically every member of the crowd who appeared in Chalmun's Cantina when Obi-Wan Kenobi and Luke Skywalker visited in A New Hope is either the focus of a story or featured prominently in one of them, and to a certain extent most of the stories connect together to create a larger narrative. If you want to know why the band was in the cantina, this book will tell you. If you're curious about who that demonic-looking guy or the Wolf Man who appeared for about ten seconds were, this is the book for you. If you want to know why they don't serve your kind in here... Well, you get the idea. Literally everybody has a story behind them, and this book aims to tell them all.

In this respect, the book is similar to Tales of the Bounty Hunters and Tales from Jabba's Palace, which do the same for the line-up of bounty hunters in The Empire Strikes Back and the Hutt's court in Return of the Jedi. It also has a Spiritual Successor in From a Certain Point of View, another collection of short stories from around the time of A New Hope, in the new Star Wars Expanded Universe continuity. Several of the characters from this anthology appear again in that one.

     The Tales 
  1. "We Don't Do Weddings: The Band's Tale," by Kathy Tyers
  2. "A Hunter's Fate: Greedo's Tale," by Tom Veitch and Martha Veitch
  3. "Hammertong: The Tale of the 'Tonnika Sisters'," by Timothy Zahn
  4. "Play It Again, Figrin D'an: The Tale of Muftak and Kabe," by A. C. Crispin
  5. "The Sand Tender: The Hammerhead's Tale," by Dave Wolverton
  6. "Be Still My Heart: The Bartender's Tale," by David Bischoff
  7. "Nightlily: The Lovers' Tale," by Barbara Hambly
  8. "Empire Blues: The Devaronian's Tale," by Daniel Keys Moran
  9. "Swap Meet: The Jawa's Tale," by Kevin J. Anderson
  10. "Trade Wins: The Ranat's Tale," by Rebecca Moesta
  11. "When the Desert Wind Turns: The Stormtrooper's Tale," by Doug Beason
  12. "Soup's On: The Pipe Smoker's Tale," by Jennifer Roberson
  13. "At the Crossroads: The Spacer's Tale," by Jerry Oltion
  14. "Doctor Death: The Tale of Dr. Evazan and Ponda Baba," by Kenneth C. Flint
  15. "Drawing the Maps of Peace: The Moisture Farmer's Tale," by M. Shayne Bell
  16. "One Last Night in the Mos Eisley Cantina: The Tale of the Wolfman and the Lamproid," by Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens

Tropes from the Mos Eisley Cantina:

  • Actual Pacifist: The Ithorians (hammer-headed guys) turn out to be this, holding to a Law of Life that even applies to plants—if a plant is killed for food, two seeds of its species must be planted. Momaw Nadon, when he accidentally gets an evil Imperial officer killed, creates two clones of him and raises them as his sons.
  • All Take and No Give: H'nemthe sex traditionally takes this to a ghastly extreme.
  • Amazing Technicolor Population: Anky Fremp, one of Greedo's childhood friends, is a near-human alien with skin as yellow as cheese.
  • Ascended Extra: The entire cast, with Han, Luke, and Obi-Wan getting Demoted to Extra.
  • Asshole Victim: Feltipern Trevagg is a corrupt, racist revenuer who swindles citizens out of their homes, helps sell people out to the Empire, and was planning to sexually exploit a naïve young tourist. His fate is to be eaten alive by said tourist shortly after they have sex. Should've done some research on their mating customs.
  • Assimilation Backfire: Dannik Jerriko smokes a hookah because he became addicted to the stuff from feeding on a smoker.
  • Batman Gambit: Labria conducts one where he gets Lady Valerian to pay him for getting Figrin D'an and his band to play for her wedding, then tips off Jabba that his band took a contract for Lady Valerian in exchange for Jabba forgiving an incident where a mercenary Labria recommended to him turned out to be an assassin infiltrating Jabba's palace, while also getting D'an and his bandmates (who he's a big fan of) stranded in Chalmun's casino with no way off-world so he can listen to them. He even manages to get free drinks from Wuher for getting the cantina free entertainment.
  • Beneath the Mask: All those weird creepy creatures you saw at the cantina in Episode IV had their own lives, hobbies, and problems, and now you get to read about them. Some of them seem significantly less weird and creepy as a result.
  • Big Guy, Little Guy: Muftak and Kabe provide a male-female example.
  • Bizarre Alien Biology: At least one example per story. Ossicones that detect vibrations and are the ultimate G-Spot, retractable second set of teeth, proboscis... you name it.
  • Bizarre Alien Psychology: A lot of this, too. For example, the bit about the Wolf Man who finds a gigantic leech-boa-constrictor-thing erotic purely for her lethality.
  • Bizarre Alien Senses: Gotal have ultra-sensitive headcones that can detect minute vibrations. They can also sense when Jedi are nearby. And some self-conscious individuals use "selfies" to make them seem bigger.
  • Bizarre Sexual Dimorphism: Devaronians are split between males, who are pure carnivore, and females, who are capable of living off of vegetation. Labria, the viewpoint character, was born with a retractable set of female teeth, and probably would have served as a scout in the pack-hunting days. They also look nothing like each other.
  • Bolivian Army Ending: Het Nkik, a Jawa who's sick of his species being everyone's Chew Toy, buys a blaster and goes after an Imperial patrol after they kill his friend (one of the Jawas who sold R2-D2 and C-3PO to the Larses). His story, written by Kevin J. Anderson, ends with him jumping out of hiding and repeatedly firing at the stormtroopers. The next story, written by Anderson's wife Rebecca Moesta, makes it into a "Shaggy Dog" Story with The Reveal that a Ranat stole his blaster's power pack. And then the story after that goes straight into Shoot the Shaggy Dog when one of the stormtroopers kills Het Nkik for, essentially, being annoying. But at least that's the last straw for Davin Felth, who decides to defect soon after.
  • Brainless Beauty: M'iiyoom Onith (beautiful by her own species' standards that is, and Feltipern Trevagg's; by human standards she's hideous). Trevagg even calls her a "bimbo" at one point.
  • Brain Uploading: Dr. Evazan experiments with technology to cheat death by this means. He uses it to switch his partner Ponda Baba's mind with a senator's. However, it works backward, the senator's mind ending up instead in Ponda's body.
  • Brilliant, but Lazy: Labria is the worst spy in Mos Eisley, but when he learns that his favorite band is in town, he pulls off an epic Batman Gambit to arrange for them to play at the cantina. As Wuher says, if Labria put this sort of thinking to anything else, he'd be a very wealthy being.
  • The Butcher: Labria (real name Kardue'sai'Malloc) is a war criminal (and music enthusiast) known as "the Butcher of Montellian Serat" hiding out on Tatooine from bounty hunters. He reappears in the final Tales of the Bounty Hunters story getting captured by Boba Fett, and is delivered to his people, who feed him to their hunting beasts alive as punishment.
  • Buy or Get Lost: One of the reasons Wuher's boss hated droids is because they'll just take up space that could be used for paying customers, since they don't drink. Though like the original film implies, Fantastic Racism might be a factor as well.
  • Call a Rabbit a "Smeerp": The music of the Modal Nodes (the Cantina band) was conceived as an alien interpretation of the music of Benny Goodman. Unfortunately, it gets the in-universe name "jizz".
  • Can't Kill You, Still Need You: The only thing that stops Lieutenant Alima from killing Momaw Nadon after the latter's murder attempt is the fact that he's using Momaw to find C-Threepio and R2-D2. He does take the time to beat the crap out of him, after already killing one of his Baffor Trees with which he was able to communicate. And explicitly threatened to kill everything Momaw Nadon held dear if he didn't deliver on the droids.
  • Cool Uncle: Greedo's uncle teaches hunting to his nephews and pilots the starship when they narrowly escape from Navik the Red.
  • Conveniently Timed Distraction: BoShek is about to be captured by local Mos Eisley police when a stormtrooper murders Het Nkik the Jawa and they run off to investigate the hubbub.
  • Corrupt Bureaucrat: Feltipern Trevagg is an Imperial tax collector who arranges to cheaply buy homes from people behind on their bills so he can rent them out for profit.
  • Deadpan Snarker: "We Don't Do Weddings" is narrated in snark.
  • Defector from Decadence: Imperial Stormtrooper Davin Felth sees what The Empire is really like and vows to become a mole.
  • Distract and Disarm: Momaw Nadon lures an Imperial captain into an alley and threatens to kill him. The captain laughs ruthlessly and says, "You can't kill me with a blaster set to stun." Momaw knows he set the blaster to Kill, but fears he may have knocked the setting aside, and looks. Of course, it is set on Kill, but he has lost his chance, and the captain shoots him. (Luckily, his blaster is set on Stun.)
  • Divide and Conquer: In "The Moisture Farmer's Tale", the titular character tries to make peace with the Sand People. He realizes that they will leave moisture farmers alone if offered some water, and attack them as the farms have been unintentionally encroaching on their land. However, while getting a woman who they had recently kidnapped released, stormtroopers attack the Sand People, destroying that possibility. She then tells him that the Empire wants them all divided with trouble on the planet, as then they won't unite or realize that the Empire is the real enemy. He decides to join the Rebellion over this, and hopes to show the others this is true.
  • Due to the Dead: Averted hard. Greedo's body is used in a beverage, and any time anyone else is killed (except for the stormtroopers) their body is simply left where they died.
  • Embarrassing First Name: Spurch Warhog Goa's first name means "brave bug-catcher."
  • The Empath: Feltipern Trevagg, as a Gotal, is able to sense other beings' emotions, plus people with the Force (like Obi-Wan Kenobi). He finds this annoying usually, and doesn't sympathize when detecting sorrow from others over his actions.
  • "Eureka!" Moment: Ariq gets one when, while playing cat and mouse with some Tusken Raiders, he realizes that they are interested more in his moisture than in killing him, causing him to consider the possibility of peace with the Tuskens, if they get enough moisture for themselves.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Quite a lot of the viewpoint characters are predictably scummy and villainous, but very few have any respect for the Empire. Even a highly predatory wolf creature has nothing but contempt for its corruption.
  • Everybody Was Kung-Fu Fighting: Lady Valarian's wedding, due to half the (uninvited) guests being Jabba the Hutt's henchmen and the casino where it is being held being raided by the Imperials for illegal gambling. All of the major characters except for Valarian's fiancé get away pretty much unscathed, although Wuher does get shot in the nose.
  • "Facing the Bullets" One-Liner: Owen Lars' last words.
    Owen Lars: I never did care much for the Rebel movement; but now I hope they find every one of you bantha slime and grill your carcasses!
  • False Friend: Greedo Was sent on a Uriah Gambit by his own mentor after he accepted a bounty on Greedo from Navik the Red.
  • Familial Foe: The Serial Killer Dr. Evazan once killed seven members of the Sillizzar family, and six more family members are out to put an end to his murder spree.
  • Fantastic Racism:
    • Wuher despises droids at the start of his story because in his mind they're the only lower thing than he is and thus the only thing he can legitimately hate. He has a change of heart when he realizes droids can be useful. Chalmun the Wookiee, who owns the cantina, doesn't much like them either, but only because they take up space which could go to paying customers.
    • Ponda Baba comes from a despised race among the Aqualish who are considered criminals and often leave their world as a result.
  • The Farmer and the Viper: When they first cross paths, Greedo saves Goa's life. How does Goa repay him? By accepting a murder bounty on him and setting him up against a superior quarry.
  • Final Solution: Navid the Red hunts down all of Greedo's clan, including him, to exterminate them all. His uncle later is shown to still live on Rodia, though as he's with Black Sun possibly Navik left him alone.
  • Gadgeteer Genius: Jet Nkik and his brother spent months restoring a damaged assassin droid while also getting rid of its weapons and malignant programming, to render it harmless.
  • Green-Skinned Space Babe: Nightlily was selected by her people to travel the galaxy and find a mate outside her culture. There are a couple twists, though: one, based on her picture, she's only really a "babe" by the standards of the other bizarre aliens at the cantina, and two, like a praying mantis she eats her partner after mating.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Davin Felth, the stormtrooper who says, "Look, sir, droids!", witnesses several Imperial atrocities and decides to become a mole for the Rebellion.
  • The Heist: In their story, Muftak and Kabe decide to burglarize Jabba's town house (his headquarters whenever he has to do business in Mos Eisley, as opposed to the palace he has in the desert) in order to raise the cash needed to get off Tatooine.
  • Humans Are Morons: A definite theme in "The Devaronian's Tale."
    Labria: What do you call someone who speaks three languages?
    Wuher: Trilingual.
    Labria: Someone who speaks two languages?
    Wuher: Bilingual.
    Labria: Someone who speaks one language?
    Wuher: Monolingual?
    Labria: Human.
    • Which is ironic, because Bilingual Dialogue is something all people in Star Wars seem to be capable of. In Real Life the joke usually ends with "American."
  • Intentional Heartbreaker: Trevagg, not realizing that in banging Nightlily he is offering himself up as ritual sacrifice.
  • Interspecies Romance: A fatal version between M'iiyoom Onith and Feltipern Trevagg, and a bittersweet one between Dice Ibegon and Lak Sivrak.
  • I'm a Humanitarian:
    • Wuher brews the remains of Greedo (and Ponda Baba's severed arm) into an especially strong drink which he hopes will gain him the favor of Jabba the Hutt.
    • The first meat that H'nemthe females eat is the flesh of their sexual partners.
    • A human thief once broke into Labria's apartment. "Turns out humans don't taste very good."
  • Informed Obscenity: Kardue'sai'Malloc takes the pseudonym Labria, which translates roughly to "cold food." It's actually a strong obscenity in his language.
  • Interspecies Friendship: Muftak (Talz, though he doesn't know it) and Kabe (Chadra-Fan).
  • Karma Houdini:
    • Navik the Red never faces any punishment for the genocide of Greedo's clan (at least until Rodia falls to the Yuuzhan Vong).
    • Dr. Evazan also gets away with his crimes, at least here. One guide says he was later killed by Boba Fett for the bounty on him.
  • Kick the Dog: Feltipern Trevagg is introduced in the process of driving a widow and her children out of their house.
  • Mad Scientist/Deadly Doctor: Evazan (the "he doesn't like you" guy at the bar) turns out to be a cross between Dr. Frankenstein and Josef Mengele. Luke's lucky Obi-Wan was there.
  • Meaningful Name: M'iiyoom Onith's name means "nightlily", which is similar to the poisonous nightshade. And indeed, Wuher reveals after she kills Feltipern Trevagg that the plant she's named after is carnivorous.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain:
    • Davin Felth is a loyal Imperial draftee until he finds himself in training for the new AT-AT walkers. During one of his first training simulations he realizes how easily enemy fighters could disable the machine with tow cables, and devises a tactical counter. The officer corps tries to cover up the weakness by transferring him to the stormtroopers and reassigning him to the ass end of nowhere, where he defects. The result is that at Hoth the Rebels know about the weakness and exploit it, while the Imperials are caught completely off guard.
    • Felth's first act of defection is to shoot his superior officer in Unfriendly Fire—while said superior officer is lining up a careful shot at Han Solo during the hangar bay gunfight. Reassigning Felth to the stormtroopers just may have saved Solo's life, which allows him to save Luke's life and help win the Battle of Yavin for the Rebels.
  • Not With the Safety On, You Won't: Momaw Nadon lures an Imperial lieutenant into an alley and threatens to kill him. Lieutenant Alima laughs ruthlessly and says, "You can't kill me with a blaster set to stun." Momaw knows he set the blaster to Kill, but fears he may have knocked the setting aside, and looks. Of course, it is set on Kill, but he has lost his chance, and Alima shoots him. (Luckily, his blaster is set on Stun.)
  • One-Letter Name: M'iiyoom Onith may be this or it may be coincidence.
  • Only Sane Man:
    • Het Nkik is portrayed as the most inventive and practical of his Jawa clan. He sees opportunities no one else does in selling an assassin droid which has been turned into an Actual Pacifist, quickly realizes that Obi-Wan isn't the one who killed his brother and the others on the sand crawler, and is the only one willing to fight back against the Empire.
    • Doik Na'ts is portrayed as the Modal Node most likely to think sensibly when Figrin is getting the band into trouble.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: Anzati like Dannik Jerriko are pretty close to vampires. They have "fangs" (proboscises that retract into cheek pockets) that they use to drain their victims of "soup" (which isn't blood, but we don't learn exactly what it is, except it's extracted from facial orifices. It appears to be brain fluids or something).
  • Out with a Bang: The H'nemthe. Apparently as a result of massive difference in gender ratio (20 males: 1 female), they have evolved the custom of females using their knife-sharp tongues to eviscerate their lovers after sex. Prior to this, virgin females are vegetarians (to ensure that the first flesh they taste is that of their lover) and they sincerely believe this is actually the greatest expression of love between the sexes. Both their appearance and mating rituals bear some resemblance to the Real Life praying mantis.
  • Pardon My Klingon: Labria's pseudonym is actually a serious profanity in Devaronian. It literally means "cold food," though it apparently loses something in translation. Labria thinks humans are weird for using religion, sex, and excrement as swear words.
  • Picky People Eater: Dannik Jerriko only eats the "soup" (your guess is as good as ours- brain fluid? Life essence?). He prefers it from risk-takers and thrill seekers, possibly because adrenal releases improve the flavor (though he doesn't use those exact words).
  • Poor Communication Kills the Corrupt Bureaucrat, ironically thus saving the galaxy from Sidious, IG-88, and the Yuuzhan Vong (in that order).
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Het Nkik tries this. It... doesn't come off.
  • Resigned in Disgrace: Kardue'sai'Malloc once served as a captain in his home planet's military, continuing to serve even once the army began accepting orders from the Empire. However, after managing to capture seven hundred rebel sympathizers from among his fellow Devaronians, he received an order to march onwards without his captives and without leaving behind any guards; Malloc had all seven hundred prisoners shot dead. He soon realized that his own people wanted him dead as a result, and submitted his resignation to the Imperial Army; the moment it was accepted, he fled Devaron with his reputation in tatters - eventually winding up as a drunk on Tatooine.
  • Right for the Wrong Reasons: Trevagg's assistant warns Trevagg against going to bed with Nightlily, pointing out that if they both find each other sexually attractive, it might result in a hybrid offspring which would get Nightlily cast out from her kind. As it turns out, females of Nightlily's kind instinctively eviscerate their partners, something Wuher is stunned Trevagg didn't know about.
  • Serendipitous Survival:
    • The only two surviving members of the revenge-seeking Sillizzar family members were the two who waited in their ship while the others went after Evazan.
    • Trevagg is about to put out a bounty on his assistant Balu to avoid sharing the reward he anticipates getting form the capture of Obi-Wan Kenobi, when He gets murdered by his new beau, with Balu being none the wiser.
  • Shoddy Knockoff Product: Labria's alcoholic beverage of choice is Merenzane Gold, a sweet and very finely-made liquor that can cost more than a hundred credits a bottle. Chalum's cantina supposedly sells Merenzane Gold at five credits a glass - or at least, it has "Merenzane Gold" on the label and has the same colour as the real stuff, but any similarity between the imitation and the real thing ends there. Labria considers the imitation to be the lowest of all Gargle Blasters - not that it stops him from drinking it. Later, while Labria is recovering from a severe beating, Wuher reveals that he has a bottle of the real Merenzane Gold under the bar and serves him a glass of it, to Labria's amazement.
  • Shout-Out: For smuggling some information from one Rebel spy to another, Kabe and Muftak are paid partly in letters of transit, which allow them to leave Tatooine. As they go, Kabe says she's thankful they'll never again have to hear the cantina band's terrible rendition of "The Sequential Passage of Chronological Intervals," an Expospeak Gag of the title "As Time Goes By." Together with the letters of transit, and the story's title, "Play It Again, Figrin D'an," this is a clear reference to Casablanca.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Greedo, for obvious reasons, Trevagg, for trying to court a H'nemthe female and being unaware of a rather vital aspect of their mating rituals.
  • Training "Accident": Part of Davin Felth's backstory. He succeeds, but in doing so points out a design flaw in the AT-AT walker, so the colonel shunts him into the stormtrooper corps. Also a Call-Forward to The Empire Strikes Back: the name of the colonel? Maximilian Veers.
  • Trapped by Gambling Debts: Figrin D'an is The Gambling Addict, and his inability to resist a card game has gotten his band in trouble thrice over. First, Doikk hints that his gambling is what got the Model Nodes stuck playing at Jabba's palace to begin with. Then, what tempts Figrin into breaking their contract and playing for Lady Valarian are the tables in The Lucky Despot. Finally, Figrin loses almost all of the band's instruments to Labria in a Sabaac game, as Labria had marked the cards with colors bith can't see, but devish can, thus leaving them forced to play at the cantina.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom:
    • Greedo's efforts to impress a couple bounty hunters (and get some credits) by revealing the location of a rebel cell near his family's home causes the Empire to raze the area, killing most of Greedo's family in the process.
    • As far as Reegesk is concerned, he's just stealing an ordinary power pack that is needed to power his tribes water vaporator, and stealing it from a blaster pistol which he'd arranged to buy the next day anyway. He has no way of knowing that without that power pack Het Nkik will find himself defenseless against the stormtroopers he tries to shoot with the blaster.
  • The Uriah Gambit: Greedo's death at the hands of Han Solo is ultimately revealed to have been engineered by his mentor Spurch Warhog Goa in order to claim the bounty on his life. For good measure, Greedo goes to his grave fully believing that Goa is ready to step in if Han gets out of hand, and the story ends with Goa collecting a very generous cash prize from Navik the Red.
  • Volatile Second Tier Position: Recognizing the mortality rate of captains under Darth Vader's command, Alima deliberately engineers a scheme that gets him demoted to lieutenant just so he won't have to deal with this trope.
  • Wedding Smashers: "We Don't Do Weddings." The Modal Nodes break their rule for a big enough payday, and come to regret it when Jabba's thugs invade the wedding and start a shootout.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: It's left unclear whether or not Greedo's brother and uncles died during the fighting on Nar Shaada.
  • Wretched Hive: The wretched hive of scum and villainy is the focus of the stories.
  • You Have Failed Me: Momaw Nadon fingers his nemesis, Lieutenant Alima, for letting the droids escape on the Millennium Falcon, claiming that Alima had prior knowledge. Nadon is expecting that his testimony will get Alima court-martialed, and is shocked to find that Imperials don't do things that way.
    Imperial Captain: [to Alima] You know what Lord Vader would do if he were here. [draws and fires]
  • You Killed My Father: Jawa Het Nkik attacks stormtroopers over the death of his brother (one of the Jawa's killed in the original film). Dr. Evazan also finds himself being hunted by six members of the Sillizzar family (of which he killed seven members as part of his murder spree).